THE news last week that Aberdeenshire Council have committed to an enhanced minimum wage for the local authority’s workers is something truly to be welcomed.
Admittedly, £7.45 still isn’t the sort of wage which will have cleaners and admin assistants jetting off to Florida, however it’s a welcome step in the right direction in a society which often fails to value those at the bottom of the corporate food chain.
I often draw the analogy that, while a society could probably exist quite comfortably without lawyers, professional politicians and - dare I say it - journalists - the people who keep the country a decent place to live are those who are usually badly paid to file paperwork, cut the grass, and keep the roads in reasonable working order.
This is probably the second time in as many years when I have been impressed by a branch of government genuinely doing something for the working-but-still-skint - the first being when the Lib Dems pushed through the personal allowance rise in £9,200, for which they received next to no credit. This was an effective reversal of Gordon Brown’s reactionary abolition of the 10% tax rate, and was hugely helpful to pretty much anyone in a low-paid job.
But yes - well done Aberdeenshire!
IN case anyone thinks I’m being too generous to the Liberals, I’ve also read with interest the Liberal Democrat proposals for a federal Britain in the event we vote no in the independence referendum. Yet again - inexplicably - there’s a refusal to allocate the Scots our oil revenues. That said, there is, finally, an admission that an oil fund might not be such a bad idea after all.
For the better part of forty years, oil has flowed ashore, and the sum total of hee-haw has been saved from its revenues. Norway - with a smaller population - can now regularly boast of positions in the top ten of just about any European human development indicators you care to name. Meanwhile, parts of Scotland continue to languish near the bottom of many of those same indicators.
The Norwegian fund already generates more money in compound interest than the value of the oil revenues themselves. Scotland, meanwhile, has nothing to show for forty years of oil production, save jobs which will likely vanish once the oil runs dry.
If the unionist parties wish to persuade us to stick with Westminster, they need to start by collectively committing to a handover of Scottish oil revenues so we can start spending - and saving - as we see fit. This resource is far too valuable for it to continue being squandered.
LASTLY, I’d like to offer a hearty congratulations to all those Formartians (?) who have been fundraising for Children in Need over the past week.
It never ceases to astonish us at the Times office how much good work there is going on in what is, fundamentally, a pretty small region. There’s never any shortage of people coming into the office tell us about BBQs, shopping fairs and parties that have raised hundreds of pounds for a charity of choice. It’s symptomatic of a generosity of spirit I encounter frequently working in and around Ellon.